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CLEVELAND – The Cleveland and Cuyahoga County health departments reported while there’s only a slight increase in the number of new syphilis cases reported to county officials in 2010, the bad news is the number of cases of people having syphilis and HIV has begun to rise.

Last year, the total number of new syphilis cases in Cuyahoga County was 159, one more than the total number of new cases reported in 2009.

Most all of the cases are in Cleveland.

“It’s still here,” said Dr. Ann Avery, an infectious disease specialist at MetroHealth Medical Center and medical director of the Cleveland Department of Public Health. “The real concern is that it’s an outbreak that is traveling with HIV.” The presence of syphilis can accelerate HIV transmission, she said.

Those affected are mostly men (91 percent); young (32 percent are under age 25; an additional 43 percent are between ages 25-34), and black.

Nearly half of those diagnosed were also found to have HIV.

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